preview

The State of Georgia: The Empire State of the South

Good Essays
The state of Georgia earned the nickname "The Empire State of the South" in the antebellum period largely because of its textile industry. From 1840 until 1890 the state consistently led the South in textile production,
Antebellum towns including Macon, Milledgeville, Madison, and Greensboro experimented with steam-powered cotton factories, with varying degrees of success. The steam-powered factories in Madison and Greensboro went broke in the 1850s, while those in Milledgeville and Macon survived to serve the Confederacy.
Macon Cotton Factory the leading manufacturing sector of the United States in the years before the Civil War. Georgia's entrepreneurs began to experiment in factory-based industry between 1809 and 1820, but they failed in their first three attempts: the Bolton Factory in Wilkes County, Schley's Factory in Jefferson County, and Jacob Gregg's Factory in Morgan County. Although the details of these failures remain unclear, it may be that the sparse population in these counties near the Indian frontier proved too thin a market for profitable industrialization. Only after 1820 did Georgians push that frontier sufficiently west to develop the suitable waterpower factory sites along the fall line in Georgia.
At the end of the 1820s the nullification crisis, in which southerners opposed a protective tariff that subsidized northern industry at the expense of southerners, pushed Georgia's entrepreneurs to industrialize textile production in earnest.
At the end of the 1820s Augustin Smith Clayton of Athens constructed a cotton mill near his hometown, hoping to prove the protective tariff that subsidized northern industry at the expense of southerners unnecessary.
Augustin Smith Clayton
Two of Georgia's important politi...

... middle of paper ...

...ustrial manufacture. Others created industries ancillary to ongoing textile industrialization, such as bobbin mills and foundries.
The thirty-year cycle of boom and bust in Georgia's antebellum textile industry proved that the success of southern textile mills was inversely related to long-term trends in the price of cotton. When agriculture suffered, mill building flourished. When agricultural profits rose, Georgia's textile industry floundered. Georgians rationally pursued profits in both agriculture and industry but were mindful of market forces and the history of risks in each area. Nonetheless, despite the setbacks of the late antebellum period, the industrial facilities and expertise developed by Georgians before the war contributed to the Confederacy's logistical ability to fight a truly modern war for four years against the industrial behemoth of the North.
Get Access